Today on the thedailypretty.com, I am chatting to Samara Palazzi, aka @thewanderingcolourist founder of LaSorella, a beautiful boutique salon in the heart of Robina specialising in blondes, balayage and winner of Gold Coast Bulletins best hairdresser. Samara and her amazing team have created the ultimate luxury salon experience with their brand new space that has recently opened. I visited the new salon, in desperate need of a hair refresh and some relaxation time. I left the salon feeling refreshed, revived and with possibly the best colour, cut and waves I have ever had! (not to mention the super relaxing basin massage and delicious morning coffee and treat). I sat down with Samara to chat about her career, the journey to owning her own business, and what makes the LaSorella experience so special.
Welcome to our #mymoderncareer interview series! I am so thrilled to chat to you today all about your career and business journey. Let's start with a bit about yourself and your personal and professional background.
Hey Loves! I am Samara and consider myself an insanely passionate hairdresser and proud owner of LaSorella salon on the beautiful Gold Coast. I started my journey into hairdressing 16 years ago where I was thrown unexpectedly into our amazing industry. I definitely was not one of those decisive people that had dreamt about their career all their lives, and after having a terrible working environment in a retail job fresh out of high school it was my hairdresser that encouraged me to start an apprenticeship working alongside her. I admit I was extremely hesitant at first, unfortunately our industry then (and occasionally now) had a stigma around it, that it’s just an easy option, that it can’t be a lucrative career, the amount of times I had heard the comment “oh you are just a hairdresser" and how that crept into the psyche of myself and others that even now we can feel small and label ourselves as such. Aside from being passionate about what I do, I am thrilled to teach the next generation and influence the current generation that we are so much more than “just a hairdresser” I mean think about it, how important is your relationship with your stylist? They are your biggest supporter, the ones that know all your secrets, that cry and laugh with you while making you look and feel beautiful, to me this is powerful and so far from anything small.
After my first week I knew I had found my place, my purpose, I worked hard and won multiple awards with the company I was with. I finished my apprenticeship almost 12 months early and started managing the salon. As grateful as I am to the company I was trained with, it was too fast, overly basic in technique and not focused on the clients and perhaps overly focussed on the bottom line. I was cutting on the floor at only 7 months into my apprenticeship, in comparison my apprentices don’t start cutting on the salon floor until their 3rd year. At this point and only early in my career I was burnt out, seeing 3 times the number of clients my current staff see a week, it felt like a conveyor belt. In an attempt to reduce the exhaustion, I sought to remove myself from the floor, I started focusing more on the management side, only to find myself equally if not more burnt out. Dealing with running a salon at the tender age of just 22 was not the answer I had hoped for. The lessons I learnt through this all were all a part of my journey and all equally important a part of the reason I am successful today. At 23 and newly engaged I took the leap and started working for myself, I had worked hard to create a small number of clients I looked after from home and had the support of my husband. I realised then the love of hairdressing lay in looking after people, making them happy, for clients being obsessed with what I did and how I made them feel and the only way I could do this in the best way possible was if I was able to do it my way.
When did LaSorella first open and what inspired you to create your own salon?
Within 18 months of going out on my own I had outgrown the space I was in and needed to hire a staff member. It was then La Sorella was born. The name? Well it means ‘my sister’ in Italian and man has that become more evident in my business as the years have progressed. 3 years into the new venture I had built a business and owning with it my share of mistakes and a significant amount of debt. After the birth of my first baby I had to start fresh – again, my only staff member had just moved overseas and I had realised not only did I know nothing about business but I was indeed BASIC, ahhhh a basic hairdresser isn’t what I wanted to be and as much as I thought I was good I look back now and cringe just a little. After thinking I wanted to be a stay at home mum (reality hitting of actually how hard that is) my passion for my business reignited and I was full steam ahead. I realised I was an idiot to think I could do any of this solo and started to search for a team that could support me in building La Sorella. I changed hair care companies, banks, accountants and ensured that each aligned with my values and vision. I started working on myself professionally and personally with an array of coaches and courses that also aligned with me on a soulful level. Within 8 months of this (having a 12 month old and a husband that was FIFO) I was completely out of debt and business was booming. Fast forward to now, 6 years later, I have another daughter, 8 staff, a brand new custom designed salon and I am the happiest, strongest version of myself, surrounded by the best people that continue to see, support and encourage my vision and goals.
I love that you describe the LaSorella experience as ‘we give kindness, belly laughs, love, support and friendship’. What can we expect when we visit you and your amazing team?
All of this and more, when sitting and deciding what our Insta bio would be, these are the words that came to mind, these are the feelings invoked when in the salon by both our tribe and also our clients. It is so important to me that La Sorella feels like a safe space, a haven, somewhere you truly feel supported and taken care of, it’s so much more than the hair. You can expect to be heard, we will always listen to your needs and wants and to be honest and helpful with advice and guidance. We absolutely love those deep soul conversations and will encourage you to really take the time for some self-love and self-care.
Let’s talk all things hair! So, blondes and balayage is your thing? What techniques do you use?
We love all colours but over time we have evolved into a salon specialising in blondes and balayage, these are the techniques we train in and we teach other stylists around Australia. We are obsessed with lived in colour, we encourage our clients to only have their hair done every 12-14 weeks and want their hair to look amazing the entire time. We love those bright face pieces but those soft roots, remembering the depth in your blonde will actually make your colour feel bright and bold without those grow out lines.
What are some of your other most loved techniques and services that you offer as part of the LaSorella experience?
We love to encourage our clients to really take time for themselves so we offer a great beverage menu ensuring they can chill with a good coffee or really enjoy a margarita, we serve said beverages with a pack of angel cards so they can delve into some guidance from the universe and we are there for support if they need those deep conversations. We have an incredible basin area that has zoned meditation music as well as guided meditations while you are soaking in the ambiance at the basin space. All this and more, we are all about the little details and surprises.
Congratulations on moving to your brand-new space recently! It is absolutely stunning and you really have taken care in all of those special finishes which I loved when I recently visited. Tell me all about your new space...
Oh, it’s everything we could have dreamt of and more, after being in our last space for 10 years we really knew all the things that would not only make the salon beautiful but extremely functional and every single detail was carefully considered. It was important to me for the salon to feel warm and inviting as well as spacious. We included things like dimmed lighting for the evenings in the basin room and separate music in the different areas. If you look around there is many different aspects to make our life easier like double sided cupboards to our back room, little sliding doors for access to different spaces, zip taps, hair vacuums, we wanted the space to be as enjoyable for us to be in as it is for clients and all those little details are what makes it so special. LaSorella was built from love, with my husband overseeing the entire build as well as building all the specialised pieces, each trade was either friends or clients which meant so much incredible energy was poured into those walls.
Creating and nurturing a team environment based on friendship is a big part of your salon, why is this super important to you and how do you continue to grow this?
If you haven’t already gathered, I am the biggest supporter and lover of women, I am a girl’s girl and damn proud of it. This completely translates to my staff, a tribe of the most incredible humans that I am lucky enough to spend my days with. I work simply on the notion of treating them how I would love to be treated, appreciation and gratitude radiates in my salon. I apply the same principles of what I love in my life for them, I no longer wanted to work Saturdays anymore as I wanted to be more present for my family and think they should have the same, so I shut the salon on weekends. They choose the hours that work for them and I just appreciate any time they choose to spend with me, they know that they come first, that their mental and physical health is the top priority and by choosing to work alongside us they have a family that respects, supports and loves them unconditionally. I mean, who wouldn’t want that space to spend their time in?
Samara, what career advice do you have for hairstylists who may just be starting out or are into their career?
Work in an environment where you are respected and appreciated but remember that only comes when you also live by these values, treat your salon, your fellow team mates, your clients and your boss exactly how you want to be treated and don’t become a cliché in this business and buy into the ‘hair salons are bitchy, bullshit’. Be authentic and impeccable with your words and live your career in a way that feels right in your soul. Pour as much passion as possible into every day, appreciate every client that sits in your chair but also know that people will move on and not to take it personally. Remember you can’t make everyone happy but the ones you do, woah they will be the highlight of your life and focus on that. You make people beautiful for a living, you support them through the highs and lows, you make a difference in people’s lives every single day, never forget the power in that.
Could you share with us a valuable business lesson you have experienced throughout your own business journey?Surround yourself with people that want to see you grow, align yourself with a colour and retail company that supports your dreams and has your back, find an amazing accountant, bank manager, financial planner that can help you make good decisions and can also cheer your success. We aren’t taught to be business owners but we choose this chapter so educate yourself on how to do it the best way, never stop asking questions on how to do things better, so much of what I have learnt is from the mistakes made, the universe has your back and even though some of those mistakes may feel like they will destroy you, it will take you to something better and even more beautiful. Never stop learning, never stop wanting to do better or be more.
What’s next for the LaSorella family?
It’s been such a big year for us already. We are all happy just relishing in our new space, I have a lot of education on the cards this year and the joy of spending time with other like minded hairdressers is what sets my soul on fire. We have weddings and events and hopefully eventually more babies on the way so you will just find us being grateful every single day for all these moments. We will continue to expand our family and our client base to bring even more joy to our worlds and indulge in all the opportunities that the universe brings our way.
Where can we find you, book our appointments and connect on socials?
You will find us at La Sorella salon on Facebook and Instagram and lasorella.com.au, please slide into our DM's any time if you have any questions about either your hair or business, we love a chat! For my personal business page head over to @thewanderingcolourist where I talk more on balancing the two worlds.
Thank you so much Samara for sharing your journey and talent as an amazing hairdresser, business owner and over kick ass babe! You inspire more people than you know, keep doing you and BIG congratulations again on your amazing new space. Ladies, if you want the ultimate luxury salon experience with the best hair you have ever had, visit La Sorella AS-AP!